On Friday, I found myself standing in a grocery store, I was holding a mango. I had no idea why I was holding a mango. I didn’t even know why I was in the store. To make matters worse, I confided all this to the mango. When it occurred to me that 1. I was inexplicably holding a mango and 2. talking to it. I put the mango back and slunk out of the store.
That’s what stress does to me. It makes me get a little absent. My dad was like that. He would get very distant whenever he went outside his element. On him it looked charming. (He had an absent minded professor air about him.) Judging from the looks of the other shoppers who witnessed me talking to the mango, I don’t think I pulled it off as well as he did.
The mango incident occurred four days before I was to leave for a six-week stay at the Sofia Art Residency in Bulgaria. I get a little more distant as the departure date approaches. Some people get excited and engaged when they plan a big trip. I am not one of them. I would like to be a seasoned traveller, like those people you read in the pages of travel magazines. Or even my twenty-year-old niece who went on her own and partied her way through Australia and South East Asia. I have to force myself to travel. I know it is good for me, but I am always a little bit afraid. I am not sure why Scot travels with me. He keeps telling me “You are getting so much better.” He says it so earnestly that I can’t get mad at him.
There has been so much preparation before leaving for this residency. I have held it together long enough to get most of the things I needed done. There was making the work to show at the Red House for Culture and Debate in Sofia. Subletting my apartment. Writing travel grants. When we lined up the residency, I had hoped I would learn some Bulgarian before I left. Or at least mastered the cyrillic alphabet. Instead, I downloaded a dodgy looking language app that has only a few useful phrases for food, money and dating. So here I find myself days away from leaving for Bulgaria, and all I can say in Bulgarian is “beer,” “how much?,” and “I am a dolphin trainer.”